Sweet Tweets

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Discovering New Orleans

I have found that it is always great to visit a city for the first time with someone who either knows it well or lives there... Lucky for me, Hunt lived in New Orleans for a few years and goes back once a month for work. So, a few weeks ago, I tagged along and got my first taste of NOLA. And when I say taste, I could mean that in the clichéd way that seasoned travelers say that, OR I could mean eating my way through one of the liveliest southern cities I've ever been to...to the point of hurting and in amounts that shocked and disturbed me.

Exquisite food aside, it is beautiful, full of characters (Literally. It seems that being unusual and sitting/standing in the street provides a healthy stream of income in the form of tips), wears it's historical charm well, and never seems to stop having a good time of all kinds. From sightseeing around town, shopping on Magazine street, stopping at the banks of the mighty Mississippi, to exploring the French Quarter, New Orleans is a fun city to visit.

A few observations:

- To-Go cups are a norm. You're leaving the restaurant with a half-empty wine glass at the table? Don't waste it. Take it! Maybe it was my days at Clemson and their open container laws causing me to be squeamish, but I couldn't help but feel like I was one step away from getting a ticket for walking around with a cup of dinner's liquid leftovers in my hand.

- There are takeout Daiquiri stands. Completely normal to stop, pick up a daiquiri on the way home from work, and drive off with it. As long as it has a little paper on top of the straw when they hand it to you it seems to be ok. Interesting that a thin paper cap is all that is needed to satisfy the law...

- Don't stop the first few block of Bourbon street. It's interesting. Be sure to look, DON'T touch by ANY means, keep your eye on the ground to see what exactly you might be about to step in, and then press on. I noticed a discernible difference in the crowds with each block. Those easily entertained got caught up in the first few blocks and never escaped the delights that caught their attention in the first few moments. It only gets better the further you go.

- An under-armor-wearing, singing, dancing DJ can put on one of the best karaoke shows EVER. Not to miss.

- Riding an electric bull is best done when you know one or less people in the crowd.

- Costumes are acceptable at ALL times. In fact, you'd be better off wearing one.

- You would be cheating yourself to not try the unusual, the unfamiliar, and the unknown when it comes to food in New Orleans. I had the pleasure of trying broiled oysters at Drago's, fried merlaton squash and shrimp and alligator sausage cheesecake at Jacques-Imo's, BBQ shrimp po boy at Liuzza's by the Track, and a most unbelievable hamburger and baked potato at Port of Call. I think I gained 10 pounds in 48 hours

- These people take their beignets seriously. In fact, Cafe du Monde is open 24 hours to feed the need when it happens. I completely get it.

- The cemeteries are beautiful and worthy of a long tour.

- Having a dedicated, personal tour guide is always a plus.

- I can't wait to get another chance to visit and try a Frozen Irish that I've heard all about, go back to all those restaurants for a second round, sit down at Cafe du Monde for coffee and beignets, sing karaoke with that crazy DJ, and maybe, just maybe, be a
cliché and take a ride on one of the tourist trap horse-drawn carriages to hear all about the history of New Orleans.

Click here for all the pics from my whirlwind trip

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